Air traffic software glitch delays Naia flights, 9K fliers

Air traffic software glitch delays Naia flights, 9,000 fliers

By: - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQ
/ 05:46 AM May 21, 2024

Air traffic software glitch delays Naia flights, 9K fliers

File photo by Grig C. Montegrande, Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines — More than 9,000 passengers—mostly those departing from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia)—were affected by flight delays and cancellations for several hours on Monday due to a technical issue with the navigational air traffic management system.

In an advisory issued at 1 p.m., the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) said it identified a “potential problem with the software” in the system of the Air Traffic Management Center (ATMC).


“To ensure [the] safety of the flying public, Caap decided to be conservative and control the operations by providing longer separation of departing flights,” it said.


READ: Naia undergoes power maintenance

Caap did not give other details but an advisory from local carrier Cebu Pacific said the “main flight data processor of the ATMC system experienced a technical issue.”

The ATMC houses the communications, navigation, surveillance/air traffic management (CNS/ATM) system, which manages and supervises the air traffic activities within the Philippine Flight Information Region.

Caap assured the public that “communication and surveillance at the ATMC remain available and unaffected” during the three-hour period when the software issue was being fixed.

According to the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), the flight disruptions at Naia, the country’s busiest and main gateway, started around 11 a.m.

A total of 56 flights were affected as of 3 p.m.—36 were domestic (five arrivals, 31 departures), while 20 were international (three arrivals, 17 departures), with the number of affected passengers estimated at 9,240.


Among the worst affected was Cebu Pacific’s Flight 5J 506, which was supposed to depart Naia Terminal 3 at 11 a.m. and arrive at Tuguegarao at 12:10 p.m.

Because of the problem with the ATMC’s system, it was only able to take off almost four hours later at 2:41 p.m. and arrive at Tuguegarao Airport at 3:41 p.m.

READ: ‘Sweaty’ at Naia: Cooling system under repair

Problem resolved

By 2 p.m., Caap issued another advisory, saying the “identified problem in the ATMC is now resolved, and regular flight operations are being restored.”

It would take some time, however, for operations at the four Naia terminals to normalize. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines already canceled several flights on Monday afternoon and evening.

To address the situation, MIAA general manager Eric Ines ordered the opening of the Naia runways for 24 hours for airline flight recovery operations.

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This was not the first time Caap’s ATMC system malfunctioned. On Jan. 1, 2023, hundreds of flights were delayed and thousands of passengers at Naia were left stranded after the Philippine airspace shut down for several hours when its CNS/ATM system and backup failed. It took days for flight operations to normalize.


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